Monday, February 8, 2016

Marvel Tails # 1

Cover Artist: Steve Mellor
Published: Nov. 1983
Original Price: $.60
Title: "Goose Rider"
Writer: Steve Mellor
Artist: Steve Mellor
Letterer: Steve Mellor
Colorist: Steve Mellor
Editor: Larry Hama
Editor-In-Chief: Jim Shooter
When the sun sets, an ordinary goose undergoes a strange transformation into...the Goose Rider, sitting astride his flaming motorcycle! Looking for something to do in his boring town, Goose Rider goes to the movies. His diversion is interrupted by the alarm on his motorcycle, forcing him to chase off some kids that were messing with it. He rides toward the bowling alley, but is stopped by a small person named Chainsaw, who wants to kill him. Goose Rider "summons the demons from heck", which causes an anvil to drop from the sky on top of Chainsaw's head. Goose Rider again rides off, but he accidentally rides across a bridge that's out of commission, causing him to fall into a river. There, he laments to himself, "I hate this job".
Goose Rider would make a cameo appearance in Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham # 17 as one of the characters taking part in the "Secret Furs" (a parody of the "Secret Wars" series).
And now for something completely different!
For those of you too young to have been reading comics in the 1980s, you might be confused as to the historical significance of this one-shot that Marvel released in 1983. Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham, went on to headline his own comic for nearly two years following this issue and has been a recurring character in the company's line-up ever since and has appeared in both print and animation. I'm not sure what sparked the character's initial genesis other than that awesome pun of a name, but I'm thankful, because Spider-Ham is awesome.
Along with Peter Porker, the Spider-Ham comics introduced a whole stable of animal analogues for Marvel characters (such as this issue's Captain Americat and Hulk-Bunny). Even stranger than all of the animal shenanigans was the decision to do a back-up spoof story about "Goose Rider", who at the time was lampooning a character that had seen his own series cancelled not six months prior to this comic's release. Still, you can thank creator Steve Mellor for introducing Goose Rider (along with other, later spoofs such as Deerdevil and the Silver Squirrel).
I know nothing about Mellor's work outside of his Spider-Ham duties, but his 5-page Goose Rider short in this issue is brilliant. It's almost stream-of-consciousness, with a bunch of non-sequitors and random events that produce a nonsensical work of magic. Why does Goose Rider exist? Not even he knows, because his life is so boring that all he can think to do with his awesome power is to go to the movies and ride around looking for something - anything! - to alleviate his malaise. The artwork is similarly gonzo, with characters chiming in with unhelpful advice for the fowl biker as he rides past on what is, admittedly, a very cool looking hellcycle.
I don't know what to make of this comic, except that I love it.
Grade: A+